Houston, Texas – A former dentist in Houston, Texas has been sentenced to just five years of probation after a botched surgery left a 4-year-old girl with irreversible brain damage. Bethaniel Jefferson, who failed to call 911 for five hours as the child’s oxygen levels plummeted, was convicted of reckless injury to a child by omission. Prosecutors were asking for a 20-year prison sentence, but the jury initially sentenced her to 10 years before recommending community supervision. The judge ultimately decided on probation.
The case revolves around Nevaeh Hall, who is now 11 years old and requires round-the-clock care. As a result of the surgery, she is unable to see, speak, walk, or eat on her own. The jury heard how the routine procedure for a decayed tooth turned into a nightmare when the young girl was left sedated for hours despite experiencing seizures multiple times.
Jefferson’s dental license was revoked shortly after the incident in January 2016. Last year, Hall’s family was awarded a $95.5 million settlement in a civil lawsuit, but it is unclear if Jefferson has the means to pay the damages. The sentencing has sparked outrage from the prosecution and the victim’s family, who believe that justice was not served.
Assistant District Attorney Gilbert Sawtelle expressed his disappointment, stating, “She failed for five hours… She was more worried about herself than that little girl’s life.” Nevaeh’s grandmother, Clara Clark, echoed this sentiment, calling the verdict “very unfair.” Clark emphasized the impact on her granddaughter’s life due to her brain damage.
Despite the emotional pleas from the defense attorney, some believe that the punishment does not fit the severity of the crime. However, the sentencing of Bethaniel Jefferson to just five years of probation has left many questioning whether justice has truly been served. Nevaeh Hall’s life has been forever altered due to the negligence of this dentist, and her family continues to grapple with the consequences.